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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A black 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is shown driving from a GMC dealer.

GMC Sierra 1500 Denali vs. Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country

Pickup truck manufacturers began to realize decades ago that pickups were more than just work trucks for most of their owners. They were daily drivers, too. Where once upon a time, trucks had Spartan interiors without even such basic features as air conditioning or radios, truck makers began adding these features along with nicer upholstery and other amenities. As time passed and trucks became even more oriented toward transporting families as well as cargo and trailers, the luxury quotient increased. If you shop at your local GMC dealer, you can find trucks equipped with amenities that would have been beyond truly unexpected in days gone by.

In particular, GMC has a luxury trim level called Denali, which can be found on its SUVs and pickup trucks, including the GMC Sierra 1500 light-duty pickup. As GMC’s top-tier trim level, it blends robust workhorse capabilities with a high level of sophistication and comfort. With rugged drivetrain and suspension components, a distinctive appearance package, and one of the industry’s most luxurious passenger cabins, the Sierra 1500 Denali exhibits GMC’s philosophy of being a premium truck manufacturer.

Chevrolet has a premium-level truck as well, called the Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country. As might be expected, given that both trucks ride on a common platform and share many mechanical components, there are similarities in both design and capability between the Silverado High Country and the Sierra Denali. However, there are also differences, with the GMC version standing out for having more amenities and an ultra-premium special edition called Denali Ultimate.

Under the Hood

Both the Chevy and GMC trucks feature a common high-strength, rugged, full-sized pickup frame and body for handling everything from heavy loads to rocky trails. Under the hood, you’ll find further similarities in engine choices. Both the Silverado High Country and Sierra Denali offer the same three engine choices, although, in the Denali Ultimate, only two of the powertrain choices are offered.

The EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8 is one of two gas engine choices and packs a punch with its 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. In the two-wheel drive version, fuel efficiency stands at 16 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. If you choose the 4×4 variant, expect to see 15 MPG in the city and 19 MPG on longer drives. This engine comes standard in both the Silverado 1500 High Country and Sierra 1500 Denali, although it’s not available for the Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate.

For a step up in power, choose the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 gasoline V8 upgrade. With this engine, you’ll get a robust 420 hp and a 460 lb-ft. of torque, also coupled with the 10-speed automatic transmission for a smooth ride. This more powerful engine is an available option for the Silverado 1500 High Country and the Sierra 1500 Denali and Denali Ultimate.

The Duramax 3.0-liter Turbo-Diesel six-cylinder is for those who value power and fuel efficiency. It delivers a solid 305 hp along with a thumping 495 lb.-ft. of torque, and like its counterparts, it comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission, contributing to a substantial towing capacity of 13,300 lbs. This engine also offers a quieter driving experience. Its fuel economy is impressive for such a powerful beast: 23 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway for the two-wheel drive and 23/27 MPG for the 4×4 models. This turbo-diesel engine is optional for the High Country, Denali, and Denali Ultimate.

The black interior of a 2024 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country is shown.


Other Similarities, Plus Some Differences

Both High Country and Denali trims are very well-equipped in terms of safety, interior amenities, and technology. Both have huge 13.4-inch center touchscreen displays for monitoring and controlling every function, along with 12.3-inch Driver Information Centers. The Denali takes that further with an optional 15-inch color heads-up display that projects information on the windshield so the driver need never look away from the road.

Both offer complete sets of safety features. GMC calls its version GMC Pro Safety, while Chevy’s is called Chevy Safety Assist. Each provides collision alerts, emergency braking, pedestrian detection and braking, Intellibeam automatic high beams, lane-keeping assistance with departure warning, and more. The Chevy and GMC offerings are basically equal in this regard. Both offer camera systems with up to 14 views to make cruising, trailering, parking, and off-roading safer.

Super Cruise is one of the few options on both of these well-equipped trim levels. This hands-free driver assistance tool works with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping to offer hands-free highway driving and can even perform lane changes with a click of the turn signal. Certain features like lane change assist aren’t available while trailering.

When it comes to premium interior features, the Denali begins to set itself apart. While both the Denali and High Country trim levels include perforated leather seating and open-pore wood surfaces, the Denali takes things a step further with patterned aluminum trim along with chrome accents. In the standard Denali, you’ll find 10-way power front seats, while in the Denali Ultimate, you’ll relax in almost insanely luxurious, best-in-class 16-way power front seats with massage capability. With a truck like this, who needs a spa? The Denali Ultimate also comes with a 12-speaker premium Bose sound system, so you can enjoy concert hall sound quality with your relaxing massage.

Getting the Job Done

Don’t be fooled by these trucks’ luxury features; both the GMC and the Chevy are serious work trucks, too. In addition to their 13,300-pound maximum tow rating for trucks equipped with the DuraMax Turbo-Diesel, these trucks offer a number of tools to make the workday pass more smoothly. For instance, they come with trick tailgates as standard equipment. Chevy calls its version the Multi-Flex Tailgate, while GMC’s is called the MultiProTailgate. Each offers multiple opening positions, a load-stop, a work surface on the inside of the tailgate—which can be used when it’s open—and a full-width step. The Denali tailgate takes things further with a 100-watt outdoor audio system—perfect for tailgate parties or for making the workday pass more quickly.

The Sierra 1500 Denali also offers an exclusive industry-first as an option in the Denali Ultimate level: GMC’s CarbonPro Composite Bed. GMC says, “The carbon fiber composite material provides the most scratch, dent, and corrosion-resistant pickup bed in the industry.”[b link] Made of aerospace-quality carbon fiber, it’s up to 25 percent lighter than a steel bed and won’t intrude as much on cargo space. It even includes additional tie-downs and indentations for dirt bike wheels.

A blue 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is shown parked off-road.


The 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali’s base price is $69,900, compared with the Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country’s base price of $64,700. [a] This difference reflects the Denali’s higher level of standard equipment and premium interior materials, as well as amenities like the standard 10-way power-adjustable front seats. Stepping up to the Denali Ultimate gets you a base price of $82,500 and reflects the ultra-premium interior materials, standard amenities like the 16-way massaging front seats, and an exclusive exterior appearance package with the blacked-out “Vader Chrome Grille” and 22-inch low-gloss black aluminum wheels. [a]

So you can see that the Denali and Denali Ultimate editions represent the pinnacle of pickup truck luxury while including features to make them even more useful on the work site or the ranch. The Denali and High Country trucks share much more than just names that refer to elevated landscapes, but in the end, if you’re looking for a premium pickup truck, the Denali is the one you’ll find at the summit.

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